Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Rashid Khalidi is the 'Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies' at Columbia University. The chair has provoked much controversy, starting with the controversial nature of the academic it is named for and the suspicion that it will serve as a highly political position -- exacerbated by the fact that Columbia at first refused to release the names of the donors behind the chair. Finally, after doing so under great pressure, the controversial nature of some of the donors was revealed -- including one donation from the government of the United Arab Emerates.

Khalidi himself has been no stranger to controversy, having come under criticism for his own views:

...Stephen Schwartz, a journalist and author of "The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror," told the Sun Mr. Khalidi is a "typical representative of the ideologized majority in the Middle East field. "

"His rhetoric is intemperate and extreme," Mr. Schwartz said. "I think the very idea of an Edward Said chair speaks for itself." ...

He was recently dropped from a plan to have him instruct New York City public school teachers in a class on Middle East issues.

This post presents what may be a new controversy involving Professor Khalidi -- a charge of plagiarism.

I will leave it to the reader to decide how serious this matter is. Upon first examination of the facts, it does seem that the case is one of fairly classic academic plagiarism. On the other hand, the piece in question is not an academic one, but instead is a fairly short piece appearing on a web-site. Should that matter for an academic of Khalidi's stature? You be the judge...

The piece appears on the web site of the American Committee for Jerusalem, now renamed the American Task Force on Palestine. In 2001, the year the item was first posted, Khalidi was President of the ACJ.

Entitled, JERUSALEM, A CONCISE HISTORY, it bore Khalidi's by-line for about four years. It bore his by-line, that is, until -- as I am given to understand -- the point that Khalidi and the ACJ were contacted by a reporter who was researching a story on this issue of potential plagiarism. As you can see, it is now by-lined "Compiled by ACJ from a variety of sources," although it still contains a link to other articles by Khalidi.

Thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine, however, you can still see the original version as it existed from February 27, 2001 to October 23, 2004 -- complete with Khalidi's by-line. The change, with no remark, explanation or trail left of the change, would tend to indicate that there was something there over which Khalidi and/or ACJ were concerned or embarrassed.

Changes of this nature are considered bad form on the internet, but is it anything more than that? Below are the portions of Jerusalem, A Concise History and the source piece, Jerusalem In History, Notes On The Origins Of The City And Its Tradition Of Tolerance by K.J. Asali that are similar, with the appropriate portions underlined and bolded as presented to me. I have snipped out any portions that do not contain the questionable content and noted them as they occur.


Compiled by ACJ from a variety of sources

Different dates have been given for the founding of the city of Jerusalem, in some cases for the most tendentious of political reasons. However, the actual age of Jerusalem, according to the best archaeological evidence, is five thousand years. The Israeli historian Zev Vilnay, in his Encyclopedia for Knowledge of the Land of Israel, and Ephraim and Menachem Tilmay in their book Jerusalem agree that the age of the city is 5,000 years.

[snip paragraph]

The oldest recorded name of the city, "Urusalem" is Amoritic. "Shalem" or "Salem" is the name of a Canaanite-Amorite god; "uru", means "founded by." The names of the two oldest rulers of the city, Saz Anu and Yaqir Ammo, were identified by the American archaeologist W.F. Albright as Amoritic. The Amorites had the same language as the Canaanites and were of the same Semitic stock. Many historians believe that they were an offshoot of the Canaanites, who came originally from the Arabian Peninsula. The Bible concurs that the Amorites are the original people of the land of Canaan.

Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem.
Thy birth and thy origin are of the land
of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite,
and thy mother a Hittite.
(Ezekiel, 16:1)

In the second millenium BC, Jerusalem was inhabited by the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe, and the culture of the city was Canaanite. The Jebusites built a fortress, "Zion", in Jerusalem. Zion is a Canaanite word meaning "hill" or "height." Jerusalem was also known as Jebus. Canaanite society flourished for two thousand years, and many aspects of Canaanite culture and religion were later borrowed by the Hebrews.

According to a number of historians and scholars, many of the Arabs of Jerusalem today, indeed the majority of Palestinian Arabs, are descendants of the ancient Jebusites and Canaanites. In 1902, the British anthropologist Sir James Frazer wrote in his book The Golden Bough: "The Arabic-speaking peasants of Palestine are the progeny of the tribes which settled in the country before the Israelite invasion. They are still adhering to the land. They never left it and were never uprooted from it."

In 1927, the historian Delacy O'Leary wrote in Arabia Before Muhammad: "The majority of the present Palestinian peasants are descendants of those who preceded the Israelites." He reiterated this in his Palestine-Muhammadan Holy Land:

The simple fact is that the majority of the Arab people of Palestine are not descendants of those that arrived as part of the wave of Islamic-Arab conquest in the seventh century. The majority of the native Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim Arabs, are of a mixed race whose connection with the land reaches back into very early history. Conquerors and settlers who followed in the wake of military success and political control were only a small minority of the continuing historic population. This population of Palestinians are the historic people of the land.

[snip remainder of the piece]

Here is the source material:

Jerusalem In History, Notes On The Origins Of The City And Its Tradition Of Tolerance

[snip two paragraphs]

It is evident that neither anniversary is historically correct. It seems that both were chosen for touristic or artistic considerations, and that the choice of the second one was politically motivated. It is well-known that the correct age of the city, according to historical accounts, is five thousand years. This estimation is given by the Israeli historian Zev Vilnay, among other sources, in his comprehensive work in Hebrew, The Encyclopedia for the Knowledge of the Land of Israel, in the chapter titled "Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel.''[l] The same age is given by the Israeli historians Ephraim and Menachem Tilmay at the end of their book, Jerusalem. [2]

[snip two paragraphs]

Indeed, the oldest name of the city "Urusalem" is Amoritic. "Salem" or "Shalem" was the name of a Canaanite-Amorite god, while "uru" simply meant "founded by." [3] The names of the two oldest rulers of the city, Saz Anu and Yaqir Ammo, were identified by the American archaeologist W. F. Albright as Amoritic.[4] The Amorites, according to the Bible, are the original people of the land of Canaan. They had the same language as the Canaanites and were of the same Semitic stock. Many historians believe that the Amorites are an offshoot of the Canaanites who came originally from the Arabian Peninsula. In this regard it is apt to quote the Bible (Ezekiel:1 6):

Thus say the Lord God to Jerusalem. Your Origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites, your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite.[5]

In the second millennium, Jerusalem was inhabited by the Jebusites. In the Bible the Jebusites are considered to be Canaanites. It was the Jebusites who first built the fortress Zion in the town. Zion is a Canaanite word which means "hill" or "height."

The second name of Jerusalem was "Jebus". The culture of Jebus was Canaanite, an ancient society which built many towns with well-built houses, in numerous city-states, in industry and commerce and in an alphabet and religion which flourished for two thousand years and were later borrowed by the primitive Hebrews.

[snip five paragraphs]

As DeLacy O'Leary pointed out in Arabia Before Muhammad "The majority of the present Palestinian peasants are descendants of those who preceeded the Israelites." [8] In The Golden Bough, the British anthropologist Sir James Frazer (1854-1941) stressed that, "the Arabic-speaking peasants of Palestine are the progeny of the tribes which settled in the country before the Israelite invasion. They are still adhering to the land. They never left it and were never uprooted from it." [9]

The American scholar Charles Matthews in his "Palestine--Muhammedan Holy Land" expressed the matter clearly:

Because the view is often held and expressed by sincere people that the "Arabs are mere interlopers in Palestine" and ought to give way to the "return" of the rightful and historic "owners" of the land of the Bible, a further word may be said regarding the ethnology of the land. The simple fact is that the majority of the "Arab" people of Palestine are not descendants of those "new arrivals" who intruded with the Islamic-Arab conquest in the seventh century.

The majority of the native Palestinians, both Christian and Moslem Arabs, are of a mixed race whose connection with the land reaches back into very early history. There is a natural tendency for history to be simplified by the concept that all Moslems of the conquered lands came in, and assumed control, from the outside: and it is an understandable fancy for most of the Moslem population to believe that their ancestors were of the conquering race. Of course, considerable numbers of real Arabs from Arabia did settle in the new possessions, and there are in the voluminous general and local histories of history-minded Islamic-peoples' records of such settlements.

But the conquerors and settlers who followed in the wake of military success and political control were only a small minority compared to the masses of the continuing, historic population. The designation "Arab" was gradually accepted by the majority along with the new religion, and the Arabic language was adopted by all. The change in religion was, in most cases, voluntary, for the sake of preferment and advantage, to escape the higher taxes on non-Moslems, and in a natural process of following the predominant environmental influence and practice. The simplicity and the virility of the new faith, in contrast with the often violent theological controversies over complex philosophical-religious doctrines of Christianity, also had their influence.

[snip remainder of piece]

There it is. You be the judge. I am particularly interested in the opinions of members of, or those familiar with, the academic community.

[Material emailed to me was used in the preparation of this post.]

Update: See this post for a link to an article which includes reaction from Khalidi himself.

Update2: More here.

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Rashid Khalidi...a Case of Plagiarism?.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Andrew McCarthy at National Review: Let's try a thought experiment. Say John McCain attended a party at which known racists and terror mongers were in attendance. Say testimonials were given, including a glowing one by McCain for the benefit of... Read More


I'd be interested in knowing how much of the suppositions in both pieces are true.
I'd like to know if Canaanites are supposedly initially from Arabia as well. Because genetic studies have supposedly shown that the initial Iraqis, Kurds, Armenians, Iraqi Christians (forget what they're called) as well as original Israelites are nearly identical or very similar to the Kurds and not the Arabs. However, they also found that about 1/2 of the Palestinian Arabs are very similar to the Jews and Kurds and the other half is more similar in their lines to the Arabs who come from Arabia.

Any answers? Where did the original piece come from, a reputable author? was it discredited?

I don't know. I'm interested in an authoritative answer, too, but only so interested as it's all slightly beside the point.

It's fascinating to me that while Israel is clearly a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, it's they that get accused of being "racist." And who screams "racist!" the loudest? Israel's critics who then rutn around and make these bizarre racialist arguments about who the land should belong though a blood test would have anything to do with anything - particularly what form of government should rule there today, and what groups existing *today* should be allowed to live there. See my reply to a comment in this post. Mitochondrial tests probably aren't the best citizenship tests available.

Look everything the Palis and Arabs do is a copy of the Jews, taking their history and applying it to themselves.

Palestinians were there since Time Immemorial
Palestinians are the ancient Phillistines
Palestinians are the ancient Canaanites
Palestinians are today's Jews
Jerusalem is our 'holy city'
Mohammed flew now from the Western Wall

They're the envious hateful jeolous little brother who can't accomplish much himself other than to try and tear down his bigger brother.

The entire Arab world is focused on Israel but how many Israeli reports on their focused on what's going on in Arab countries other than their wish to destroy Israel?

The point isn't a mitochondrial test, its that the Palis want to obfuscate and lie about the true history of the region. The actual history would be interesting as an aside and to show what absolute disgusting shamelesss liars these people are.

That should have been: "Mitochondrial tests probably aren't the best measures of citizenship available." btw

From the Cliopatia Blog at History News Network

RALPH E. LUKER: Khalidi Accused ...

Just within the last 24 hours, accusations of plagiarism against Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University's Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies and Literature, have appeared on the net. The accusations seem first to have appeared yesterday in "Rashid Khalidi ... A Case of Plagiarism?" on, a pseudonymous blog....

Update: After examining the evidence presented at, I believe that: 1) the author of "Jerusalem: A Concise History" crossed the line of acceptable paraphrase from Kamil Jamil el Asali, "Jerusalem in History: Notes on the Origins of the City and Its Traditions of Tolerance," Arab Studies Quarterly, XVI (Fall 1994); and 2) the implicit evidence of a crude cover-up, as indicated by this ascription of authorship compared with the Wayback Machine's recovery of prior ascription, is additionally damaging.

Posted by Ralph E. Luker at 11:47 AM | Comments (12)

Thanks Anne thanks for the link to the 'Leftists New Network
Can you say liar and nailed?

a) it sure looks like plagiarism to this professor (ie if a student gave me an unattributed paper with this much overlap i would fail him); b) since it's on the internet it's not as serious as publishing in a peer-reviewed article -- generally the internet is more information oriented than author-oriented; and c) the text, original and Khalidi's version, are classic a-historical apologia. the reason why the region is arab is because arab islam was one of the most aggressive imperialist and colonialist religions in the history of mankind, and when they took over and did their work, there was precious little of the previous cultures (or languages) to survive.

Yeah but he or whoever wrote this is trying to say that the original inhabitants, the Canaanites, were Arabic. I've yet to see this proven anywhere. And further the Canaanites were absorbed into and became Israelite Hebrews for the most part.

Obviously this is an attempt to achieve and end goal in any way possible to show how its not a Jewish history there but an Arab one. What's interesting is how the history here is so important to defining in an Arab one. One wonders why they are not as interested in revealing the history of Babylonia or even Syria whose native populations were both not Arabic peoples. Are they interested in turning over Iraq to the Armenians, Turkomen and Kurds, I mean in the name of "anti-colonialism" of course??????????????

the caananites are arab ,they are the first settlers in palistine, wether they were jewish or not , the palisintian jews until today are proud to be palistinian arab, also the assyrians,the phonecians are arab...they ALL came from the arabic peninsula i hope people will understand that semitic jews are caananites arab too ...while for the rest of the jews they are of european descendant ..

Meanwhile, the UN has demanded that Israel account for her ethnic composition!

From Jerusalem Post:


Nevertheless, the committee also voiced totally unfounded criticism, such as the bizarre and insolent demand that Israel provide it with information on Israel's ethnic makeup; and its demand that Israel cancel the law that prohibits tens of thousands of Palestinians from entering Israel and becoming citizens of it - a demand that has no basis in international law.


This IS bizarre. Imagine ORDERING the US or Pakistan or Russia to confer citizenship upon groups of immigrants OR demanding an account of their ethnic composition.

These arguments appear to overlap: one in academic, one in the UN.

Rashid Khalidi has never uttered a truthful sentence in his entire life. He is a master of Orwellian double-speak, not unlike his mentor Edward Said. All this crap about the so-called Palestinians being descended from various Canaanites and other ancient peoples who intermarried with the so much bull crap. The land of Israel was E M P T Y in the mid 1800s according to accounts of various western travellers, most notably Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens. He remarked upon a few Jewish faithful in Jerusalem and Hebron and a very few scraggly Arabs who made their livings in trade , since there was, NO VIABLE FARMLAND, all the ancient irrigation sources having dried up or been destroyed.

The so-called "Palestinians" are descendants of Egyptians, Syrians, and various other farm laborers and small merchants who came into Israel in the late 1800s and thereafter , lured by the money to be made off the Jewish Zionish settlers coming from Europe. End of story. The arabs had deserted Zion centuries before except for a few riffraff here and there.

As for Arabs being descended from Canaanites, there is absolutely no evidence of this anywhere, also there is no evidence of it, regarding the Palestinian Muslim population. The only living peoples with any Canaanite genetic markers are Jews, of all sorts, both Ashkenazi and Sephardic, and a few Lebanese Christians. The Lebanese Sunni Arabs are of different tribal and genetic stock as are the Lebanese Shiites. And the Palestinians are a mish-mash of various Arab nationalities, a drop or two of Beduoin, lots of Egyptian (as in the cases of Edward Said and Yasser Arafat, both of whom were Egyptians, along with Arafat´s relative the Mufti of Jerusalem....the whole Arafat family
is 100 per cent , out of Egypt. They may have bought property in Palestine in the 1900s but they have no roots there whatsover.

Which goes for every other Muslim Arab including the ones in Nablus and Ramallah, they are just
adjacent Jew Hating Arabs. The word "Palestinian" referred to a Jew living in Palestine, until after about 1955, when the Egyptian sponsored PLA
(Palestinan Liberation Army, forerunner to the PLO) was created by one of Nasser´s generals as way to bleed Israel. The refugees in Gaza, who until that time considered themselves Egyptian, or
Syrian, or whatever, suddenly appropriated the name Palestinian and started all the Palestinian propaganda exercises as a way to de legitimize the Israeli Jews. Look it all up, this stuff is easy to research , from Arab sources as well as Jewish sources or English sources. There never was and never has been, an Arab country, called Palestine, and there never were, except for Jews living under the Turks or the Brits, and "authentic" Palestinian people. The whole Palestinian myth has only been given credence because the Saudis spread a lot of money around amoung various third world corrrupt leaders, and they pay for a gigantic propaganda machine, and their interests in hating Jews happen to dovetail with the British left,
people like Ken Livingstone, and various writers for the Guardian, and

I believe that Samuel Longhorne Clemens wrote to the Cyclopaedia Britannica challenging their claim, that there were 250,000 jews in the United States; Mark Twain assured the Editor,that he knew more jews personally than that, and it must be a misprint for 25,000,000. Mutual: puerile obfuscating/demographic/racial name-calling gets Israel and its neighbours nowhere; the jews are brilliant at business but they got to be the most lousy incompetent politicians on earth. They should learn a bit of humility; otherwise, the Italians might demand back the Roman Empire. Now Israel, you don't want Vespasian back in Jerusalem; yet again, reading you the riot act! All sides in the debate; forget the dark polemical past and look forward to a bright political future.

Palestinians are not a people they never were a people and they will never be a people except for pr purposes and conning money out of the UN and foolish EU types who think giving money to these gangsters will forestall terrorist attacks on their own countries.

What is it about Islam that lobotomizes people who otherwise might have functional IQs over 100 ?

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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